Stuffed French Toast

August 15, 2012



We live on a traffic-crazed road so behind our house there is an alley system that we use to drive up to our house or ride our bikes downtown or to take little Tuko for walks. I bring this up because although I am totally over 90 degree weather and being constantly sticky, I will greatly miss the foliage that decorates our long alley system once summer comes to an end. It gives us shade from the sun when we are biking and it’s where I pick my wildflowers for our dining room table.

Last night I rode my bike down the alley to get to our local co-op. I went there to browse and pick out goodies for the ‘Foodie Penpal’ (more on this in future posts) group I joined this month. Basically, you are assigned one person who you send up to 15 dollars worth of goodies to and then someone else sends you things and you get a new person each month. I love this idea but it kind of makes me wish I had a real pen pal (one whom you contact more than just once) that I could send a box full of local goodies and spices to and say ‘hey. make this!’ and then we can text each other pictures of the recipe and geek out over food. You know…the kind of friend you never meet (because they live in Portland or Vermont) but you feel a silly connection with them anyways? Woah, this is quite the scenario I’ve come up with…perhaps I have been seriously listening to wayyy too many ‘Joy the Baker’ podcasts lately.

Anyhow, to do another 360 (is this already the 3rd time I’ve changed the subject?) Wyatt has been on a serious health kick lately (let me remind you this is the guy who use to need pizza and gravy in his life at least once a week). I am 100% behind him on this because I prefer to eat as healthy and organic as possible but sometimes a girl just needs to eat what she wants.

My craving for french toast started last Friday when I picked up some Michigan maple syrup and a fresh baguette for Saturday’s breakfast. However, Saturday morning came and we had to clean our house in anticipation for Wyatt’s parents coming and no french toast was made. And then his parent’s stayed until Sunday and bought us some delicious local muffins on Sunday morning (which meant no french toast- AGAIN). So as I was sitting at my desk on Monday morning, I decided I NEEDED to make this french toast for lunch (I mean…in addition to my constant craving, the baguette was probably going to go bad if I waited any longer!) However, when I got home I was met with a very annoying ‘I don’t think I want that much sugar for lunch. I don’t want any- thanks’ response from Wyatt which made me feel guilty so I made us veggie sandwiches instead. Defeated, I decided that I would go to yoga on Monday night and if I still was craving it after (I usually only want huge salads after feeling amazing cleansed from yoga), I would make it regardless of any response from my sugar-hating boyfriend. And alas, yoga made me feel great but so great that all I wanted to do was continue to please myself. I ran home, didn’t say a word to Wyatt, and created these little puppies.


Woah, this has been a rant of a post sort of day!



Stuffed French Toast (or French Toastie Sandwiches?)

  • 1 stale baguette, sliced
  • 4 ounces of cream cheese
  • 1 pint fresh raspberries (or blueberries or blackberries or strawberries)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk (soy or regular)
  • dash of cinnamon
  • dash of nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • butter or oil (to coat the pan)


Spread cream cheese on one side of half of the sliced baguettes. In a shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla.

Melt a tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium. Dunk the non-cream cheese side of the baguettes in the egg mixture and put on preheated skillet. Dunk all of the plain baguettes in the mixture and place in the skillet (you will probably have to do this in rounds because you don’t want to crowd the pan! Just make sure you have an even number of cream cheese to non-cream cheese slices). Cook for 2-3 minutes (or until browned and flip the non-cream cheese slices on top of the others to make a sandwich (and so the cooked side is inside the sandwich). Flip all the “sandwiches” and cook on the other side for 2-3 minutes. Remove from pan and repeat with the rest of the baguette.

Lather in fresh butter, raspberries, and drizzle maple syrup. Enjoy with a Bloody Mary or Mimosas!




Spicy Arugula Salad // A Guest Post

August 14, 2012

Happy Tuesday! I am very excited to welcome Nicole from Masters2Marathons to VV today. She has a wonderful post about an absolutely scrumptous Trader Joe’s inspired salad. And feel free to hop on over to Masters2Marathon to see my guest post about DIY Granola Bars! Enjoy!




Hi everyone, my name is Nicole (blog Masters2Marathons) and I am super excited to be featured as a guest writer on Vegetarian ‘Ventures!  I started following Shelly’s blog a few weeks ago and absolutely love all the recipes she shares.  Today I will be writing about my new favorite recipe called “Spicy Arugula Salad” which is jam packed with protein and flavor!  As a runner, I need to make sure I eat foods that give me the most ‘bang for my buck’ and this salad does exactly that: quinoa is a complete protein, bell peppers and arugula contain lots of crucial nutrients, and currants quench my sweet tooth craving.  For those of you wondering where my inspiration came from, this recipe is my vegetarian friendly version of Trader Joe’s “Lemon Chicken and Arugula Salad”.  Now where does the ‘spicy’ part come in? Well the arugula certainly has a little ‘bite’, but so does the dressing consisting of fire roasted bell peppers and sliced pimento. They certainly round out the salad nicely. My version of this recipe is given below, but there is definitely room to ‘play’ with ingredients to make it your own (see some of my suggestions). Hope you enjoy!

How to make this healthy deliciousness:
1. Prepare the quinoa and Israeli (pearled) couscous. To make my life easier, I like to cook them at the same time. I pour 1 cup tri-colored quinoa and 2 cups water into my rice cooker and press the button because I have problems with quinoa on the stove. For the couscous, I follow the directions on the package:  In a 2 quart sauce pan, saute 1 1/3 cups couscous with 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat until lightly browned (~5 min). Slowly add 1 3/4 c boiling water (watch for spattering!!!) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium/low, cover, and simmer for 12 minutes until liquid is absorbed. Once both are done cooking, let them cool completely if you want a cold salad. Otherwise head to step 3 if you were multitasking and made #2 during the cooking process :)
2. Make the spicy dressing.  Add 1 fire roasted bell pepper and 2 ounces of sliced pimento (with a little bit of their juices) to a  blender or food processor. Blend until smooth and salt to taste.  To add a bit more ‘kick’ feel free to include a little lemon juice and cayenne pepper powder. Also, if you want extra dressing, just double the recipe!
3. Put it all together. Add the quinoa and couscous to a very large bowl. Mix in the currants, chopped bell pepper, and arugula. Serve yourself and dress the salad to your satisfaction! This recipe makes a few servings, around 3-4, for me personally.
Some suggestions: This salad would also taste great with some raw or lightly toasted pine nuts or raisins instead of currants. Also, feel free to throw in some chopped onions when sauteing the couscous for a caramelized flavor! Finally, this salad tastes great warm or cold (first time I made it, I couldn’t wait to dig in). Enjoy!
 If you end up making your own version of this recipe, please share it in the comments below!!!
Hop on over and check out Nicole’s blog here.

Moody Monday: Puppy Party

August 13, 2012


Good Morning! Hope everyone had a fantastic weekend. It finally cooled off around here this weekend which meant that my tomatoes are finally almost done ripening! Yay! In other news- this is going to be a very very busy week for VV. Hope you are all ready for it!

This weekend was a busy one! Wyatt’s parents came to visit and they brought Tuko’s 10 week old little brother (SOOOO ADORABLE) and their other boxer dog. This meant that it was a puppy part allllll weekend long.

Pictured above: Tuko’s little brother & me, Slaw veggie dog, the [empty] dam at the dog park, and Tuko & his little brother (looooook at how big tuko is compared to him!).


Searchable Saturdays

August 11, 2012
A picture from our organic farm that we pick our CSA box up at

1. I have an array of adorable teacups from my great-grandmother and have been trying to figure out how to display them. Perhaps I should try this DIY?

2. If you are a locavore like me then you are constantly wondering where your food is coming from. Have you checked out this website that can track where your milk came from? So rad! Orrrr…if you want to know that your milk came directly from your home then you can whip up my DIY Soy Milk (just sayin’)

3. Coconut Bacon?? I am intrigued.

4. My work desk is sloppy, sloppy, sloppy. I’ve thought about getting a plant to brighten it up but my desk is no where near a window. Maybe I’ll make this cute little paper oven to decorate!

5. I cannot stop obsessing about how bad I want fall to be here. I’ve been fantasizing about Pumpkin Cookies and Nutella Hot Chocolate.

6. Lately I’ve been drawing recipe (and photography) inspiration from Vintage Cakes and Pure Vegan

Okay! Well I’m off to clean the house and reward my cleaning with some baked French toast! Mmmm

Sparkling Rosemary Lemonade

August 9, 2012

After making the blueberry simple syrup for The Blueberry Limeade Cocktail, I am obsessed! Simple syrups are soooo easy to make and they bring a whole new level to cocktail making. There is just something so elegant and old-fashioned about making your drink out of homemade syrup.

We have been having these ‘ladies nights’ at work once a month that have been super fun. Although social events are pretty common at my workplace because we all go out to shows/concerts when one of our artists are in town, it’s not really the best environment (loud music, lots of drinking, dark lighting) to really get to know each other. We have four departments so you don’t really think about how many ladies there are working here until you put us all in a room together.

The first two ‘Ladies Nights’ consisted of getting cocktails after work. Don’t get me wrong…cocktails are awesome but getting sloppy with my co-works at 7 pm was a bit awkward at first. However, we had a third outing this week and mixed it up by having a vegan potluck in the park (it wasn’t specifically vegan but there are several girls who are vegan so i didn’t want to be that jerk that didn’t consider other people’s dietary needs). Anyhow, I had remembered Tracy from Shutterbug talking about her Rosemary Lemonade on an old Homefries podcast. Perfect! I had to tweak her recipe a bit to make it vegan but it turned out mighty fine (if I do say so myself).

Oh! and with the leftover lemonade, I added some gin and made a perfectly refreshing cocktails. Just sayin’ – it was delicious and definitely took the edge off! Bring a whole new meaning to a flavored gin and tonic!

PS In my recipe below, I suggest that once the syrup is cool that you let it sit overnight in the fridge to bring out the rosemary flavor. However, if you are short on time then you can skip that part for a more subtle rosemary flavor.



Sparkling Rosemary Lemonade


Rosemary simple syrup:

  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 sprigs of rosemary


For the lemonade:

  • 10 lemons, juiced (+2 sliced for garnish)
  • 2 liter bottle of sparkling seltzer water
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar (or more to taste- I just left my bottle out so individual people could sweeten their servings to their likings)
  • Rosemary, for garnish

To make the syrup: Bring the water, sugar, and rosemary to a boil in a small saucer. Simmer for 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let cool. Once cooled, place in a sealed container and refrigerate overnight.



To make the lemonade: Juice the lemons whatever method you would like and cut the garnish lemons into thin slices. In a large pitcher, stick the fresh lemon slices, rosemary garnish, lemon juice, seltzer water, and agave. Adjust flavoring to your likening by adding more agave.

Serve chilled over ice or with a shot of gin!



Vegan Mac & Cheese

August 8, 2012


On Saturday afternoon I met up with Jamie of The Hearty Herbivore to cook up some vegan fare. Jamie and I were basically destined to be friends…we both host vegetarian food blogs, interned at the same record label, and majored in the same thing at Indiana University. Crazy similar? I’d say so. We spent the afternoon whipping up a vegan twist on a comfort classic, gossiping over stats, and poking fun at our foodgawker rejections.

To be completely honest, this recipe was a bit more labor intensive that I had fully anticipated. It was by far the creamiest and more flavorful I have ever had but I would recommend giving yourself a good amount of time to prep this recipe. But other than that, this recipe is a total winner and I would encourage it for any potluck or go to with some bbq tofu (perhaps from your homemade bbq sauce?).



Vegan Mac & Cheese

Cashew Sauce:

  • 1 large Yukon potato, peeled and cut into small chunks
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup raw cashews
  • 1/4 cup raw pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup margarine
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Creamy Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup margarine
  • 5 Tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  • Breadcrumbs
  • 16 oz. of cooked noodles

Prepare the pasta according to package directions.

In a small saucepan, combine the potato and carrots with a cup of water. Cover and cook on medium high heat for about ten minutes or until the vegetables have softened.

Put the carrots, water, and potato into a blender. Add the rest of the cashew sauce ingredients and blend.

Make the creamy sauce: In a saucepan, melt the margarine over medium heat and add the flour. Make a roux with it and once a thick paste as formed, start adding in the milk slowly. Sir constantly until the sauce has thickened. Remove from heat and add in the nutritional yeast, turmeric, and salt.

Add creamy sauce to the blender with the “cheese sauce” and blend until well combined. Add your cooked pasta to a 9 by 13 inch baking sheet and stir in the sauce from the blender.

Cover with tin foil and cook for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and add breadcrumbs on top.



Oh! And make sure to check out Jamie’s interpretation of the recipe here.


Savory Vegetable Cobbler

August 7, 2012

CSA Box this week! So excited that we got one since last week’s had to be cancelled because of the drought.

I have been starting to feel summer winding down in my mind so I sorted through and made a list of all the recipes I MUST complete before the fresh produce goes out of season. This was number 1 on my list. It was something that I had made last summer and as soon as I ran across the scribbled recipe in my notebook, I started craving it. The best part too is that you can totally substitute whatever veggies you have on hand and this will help get rid of the huge basil plant infestation that is starting to take over your garden!

Also, I totally realize that making something that is usually sweet into a savory dish may sound weird. But it’s amazing! I have a delicious savory french toast recipes that I will be making in the next couple of weeks to re-enforce this statement. And I am really sorry to whoever invented this idea because the notes I have of this recipes (which were written down years ago) does not include the original source.

Is it just me or is this the perfect dish to make the night you get your CSA box and use up a bunch of those veggies while they are the freshest? I think so.



Savory Vegetable Cobbler

Serves 2 as a main (double for a family of 4 or to have leftovers)

For the topping:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • dash of salt
  • dash of sugar
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into large chunks
  • 1 Tablespoon ice old water


  • 1/2 Tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1/2 bell pepper, diced
  • 1/3 cup basil, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 Tablespoon milk
  • Salt/Pepper

To make the topping: Combine the flour, salt, sugar, and cheddar into a small mixing bowl. Throw in the butter and with [washed hands] press the butter and batter between your fingers to create a coarse dough. Slowly add in the tablespoon of cold water and mix until a thick ball forms. Wrap in foil and stick in the freezer until ready to use.

For the filling: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large skillet, heat the butter and oil over medium. Add the onion and garlic and cook for five minutes. Add in the squash and bell peppers and cook until everything is soft and begins to brown. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat. Fold in the tomato, sugar, flour, and milk. Place in a 9 by 9 inch pan.

Remove dough topping from fridge and pinch off tablespoon pieces to lay over the top. Stick in the oven for 35 or 40 minutes or until it’s browned.



Moody Monday: Lazy Days

August 6, 2012


My Moody Monday picture is not really a specific adventure but just a few snippets from a lazy weekend. Wyatt just got an iphone and is loving the photo apps so I have been letting him enjoy taking most of the pictures lately.

This weekend was very laid back but it reminded me of two things: I cannot wait for fall and I looooove playing games. We played a few drinking game on Saturday with some friends instead of going to the bar and it makes me wonder why we ever bother wasting money going out.

Also, I cooked with Jamie of The Hearty Herbivore on Saturday which was a super great time! We totally nerded out about Foodgawker rejections and sponsorships. Be prepared for a full post about it later this week and more collaborations with her in the near future!

Searchable Saturdays

August 4, 2012

Tuko/Taco/Teekee at the lake

So this month marks the 1 year anniversary of my blog. Woah, weird. Right? Anyhow, we will get more into that later this month when the actual date hits. I am bringing this up because I would like to try to start expanding my voice more and more on here; I am starting to finally feel like I am in the groove of this blog business. So what does that mean for VV? That means that you should be expecting to see quite a few more collaborations with other bloggers going on around here and also that I may start experiment more with my photography/columns. I feel like I am starting to have more personality with every post and would like to share more than just the standard cookbook format.

I am a total lazy butt when it comes to the weekends and blogging. I spend all week working and consider it important to have a break (yes, even a break from blogging…so that I don’t get burned out…but realistically, hopefully, I have a few more years in me before that start happening). Anyways, so my day job is working at an indie record label distributor (see SCDistribution) which means loooong looong (like 8 hours long) of sitting at my desk in front of the a computer. I usually spend my breaks on getting ideas for cooking/creating/decoring. By the end of the week, I have a long list of things that inspire me. And my thoughts are why not share some of my favorite things instead of just keeping them all to myself in my bookmarked section. You know? Maybe? Well, I am going to and we will just have to wait and see how this turns out!

I had so much fun making a few lists for my ‘July’ wrap up that I decided I wanted to do it more often (oh- and post a random instagram pictures because I am insta-obsessed). I am going to start trying to post these every Saturday as a way to ‘mix things up’ around here and get me out of the mind-set that weekends aren’t meant for blogging.

And so we are off:

1. I have spent far too many hours listening to Joy The Baker and Shutterbean’s podcasts this week. Like seriously…I’ve probably gone through at least 5 episodes in the last two days…

2. I broke a bunch of my air plant’s pots while moving and am kind of at a lost on how to display them as of now. I really wish I owned this holder.

3. I want a cast iron skillet so bad. Soley for the purpose of wanting to make this cookie cake.

4. Yoga has been becoming a big part of my life lately. Cannot wait until it cools down and I can practice outside.

5. Been itchin’ to make a blue velvet version of these cheesecake bars!

6. Saving this recipe for the camping that I have planned in my near future.

7. I’ve mastered homemade bbq sauce and ketchup but how about mustard?

Yup, hope everything is having a fantastic weekend and that you are going out to a pretty spot for a lunch picnic today!

Roasted Tomato and Feta Polenta

August 2, 2012

This weekend is creeping up fast which means it’s time for me to start thinking about what I can knock off my August to-do list. I immediately thought of camping but the weather channel claims its suppose to rain both days this weekend (although I have  my doubts…they have talked of rain for months now and it still manages to miss over us). But if rain really is in the forecast, perhaps its time to finally start working on my recipe zine?




Polenta and I have a very weird relationship. It’s such a comfort food for me that you would think I had been served it for breakfast since I was a toddler. But truth be told, I only first discovered the stuff maybe 5 years ago. And still there is something about it’s velvety texture and versatile use that I seem to find comfort in. It manages to shine as a side (in the form of fries) or bring out a main (like under a pile of cheesy eggs) or take charge as the entrée (like in a lasagna and in this recipe below).

I’ve been a little stubborn (and probably a bit stupid) lately and decided it was time to just let go. We have two HUGE tomato plants that are growing in our backyard but they were fruiting at snail pace because of the heat waves and drought. I have a very large pile (that is growing everyday) of tomato recipes I want to try this summer but kept putting the off waiting for my tomatoes to be ready. And guess what? Tomato season is already half over and I have yet to indulge in any sweet yellow cherry or rainbow heirloom tomatoes this year! I had one of those ‘DUH’ moments the other day where I realized just because my tomato plants are taking their fine time to bloom does not mean I have to shun all other tomatoes during their peak season. This triggered the reaction to immediately take a walk to my local co-op (which his thankfully just down the street) and pick up a pint of my favorite sweet yellow cherry tomatoes.

I really didn’t even care what else I put the roasted tomatoes with but I just knew I had to roast them….I spent hours in the winter daydreaming about the sweetness that comes out when these little guys are roasted. From there, this recipe developed into a medoly of my comfort food at it’s finest.


Roasted Tomato and Feta Polenta

  • 1/2 cup dried polenta
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 pint of sweet yellow cherry tomatoes
  • 2-3 ounces of crumbled feta (depends on how salty you like it!)
  • Salt/Pepper


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice the tomatoes in half and stick on a cooking sheet with the sliced part facing up. Cook for about 30 minutes or until soft and juicy.

In a small saucepan, add the water and milk. Heat just until before boiling and add in the grits. Stir constantly for about ten minutes or until the polenta starts to thicken. Remove from heat and stir in half the feta and salt/pepper to taste. Cover and set aside for about ten minutes or until it sets.

Finally, top the roasted tomatoes and the rest of the feta on top. Serve with some warm Sky High biscuits and your favorite jam.

Sky High Biscuits and Sage Gravy

August 1, 2012

After dozens and dozens of failed attempts, I am still trying to photograph a beautiful plate of biscuits and gravy (see here and below). I am starting to feel like it’s a lost cause…there is just no way to convey the rich and velvety flavor that go into this pile of grey gravy. I may sound frustrated but I am not going to give up; this is because biscuits and gravy is something I make more than I should probably admit. And here is why: I get really excited about food…like boy-crazy-school-girl-excited. Say, for example, you put a plate of baked Cajun sweet potato fries with a caramelized onion goat cheese aoili in front of me… I will get gitty and my eyes will light up like I am about to experience going to a new continent for the first time. This is how Wyatt gets about biscuits and gravy. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him get as excited as he gets when I mention that I might make my sage gravy recipe. Heck, he even offers to help me! Woah.

Anyways, I am telling you this because it leads me to making biscuits and gravy on the regular. It makes me feel better about getting excited about food when I know I can make someone else feel that way. I’ve probably made the sage gravy and mushroom gravy a dozens times each but I had never (weirdly) made biscuits from scratch. My B&G breakfast is always triggered by me seeing my favorite organic biscuits on sale. But instead this time it was triggered by fresh sage in my CSA box.

I decided it was time to tackle my own biscuits. I kept it simple this time because I wanted to focus on achieving big and tall biscuits but I can’t wait to experiment with cheddar and dill biscuits in the near future.


See here is the recipe for the Sage Gravy I put on these biscuits (or try out this Mushroom Gravy or even this Chickpea Gravy).



Sky High Biscuits

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon of baking powder
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 Tablespoons cold butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 1/2 cups of buttermilk (or I didn’t have buttermilk so I made some with whole milk and vinegar using this method)



  • Extra flour
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, melted


Start by preheating the oven to 500 and greasing a 9 inch circle cooking pan and a 1/4 cup measure.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Using your clean hands, add in the butter and rub mixture between your hands to combine into a coarse dough. Next, make a well in the center of the mixture and add in the buttermilk. Fold the dough into the buttermilk just until combined (the dough will be SUPER wet but don’t worry).

Spread out about a cup of flour onto a clean counter top or cutting board. Using that greased measuring cup, scoop out 1/4 cup of dough, roll in the flour, and place in the greased cooking sheet. The dough is super sticky so work fast so that it doesn’t have a whole lot of time to expand in the pan. After you are done, they should all fit very snugly in the 9″ pan.

Pour the melted butter over the top of the biscuits.

Cook for five minutes and then reduce the temperature to 450 and cook for another 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

Later with delicious gravy and enjoy with a big glass of freshly squeezed orange juice!

July Wrap Up

July 31, 2012

Well, it’s that time again! July has already flown past us and it’s time to start reflecting. Here are my favorite posts from this past month:

1. Ah yes! The Blueberry Peach Cobbler Cake that I made for our 4th of July funsies. I feel like I have never experienced a cake that was not only so packed with flavors from the fresh fruit and spices but also stayed moist for days after! Soooo. delicious!

2. The post I made about our Lake Picnic! Although this does not have a recipe included, it was fun to play around with these photos and work to really try to capture the beauty that comes along with spending an evening at Lake Monroe.

3. This was the first recipe I made with our CSA box. The summer squash was so fresh that our farmer had literally picked it earlier that day! ah! and the buttery crumble on top made for a mouth-watering mess that I could get use to indulging in!

4. Blueberry Limeade Cocktail – it was very exciting to make my own simple syrup (and so freaking easy!) and then serve it to all our guest at our House Warming Party. The blueberries made this drink the most beautiful deep purple that I have ever seen a cocktail!


As far as my summer goals, I think the only thing I crossed off in July was ‘Take Time To Do A Little Yoga Everyday’ and ‘Try New Cocktails’. I really need to get on the ball here because August is what I consider to be the last month of summer. Sadly, my puppy torn up the part of the garden with cucumbers so there will be no pickling of my own cucumbers this year. With that being said, I think it’s time to tweak my summer list a bit…



3. Pickle my own grown cucumbers


3. Learn to can


And I think I will be holding off on making cheese until the weather cools down…that is actually going to be a great recipe to play around with when it’s cold and I need to amuse myself for the afternoon.

So…goals I plan to tackle in August:

1. Start working on my recipe zine

2. Learn to can

3. Learn to like mushrooms // start cooking with mushrooms more

4. Go camping (if the weather cools..)

5. DIY projects: macrame planters // homemade rings // Billy Buds (see here)




Moody Monday: Staycation

July 30, 2012

So I went into this weekend basically having no plans (outside of Friday night) and was almost kind of nervous about it. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have a long list of things to do on the weekend. I mean…don’t get me wrong- there are dozens of awesome things to do in Bloomington in the summer (farmer’s market, quarries, drive in, canoeing, wine tasting, brewery tours, etc) but I just was not feeling any of the usual spots that I like to spend my free time. So, instead, I approached Bloomington as if I was an outsiders looking to visit it (a well-known practice for anyone who has been ‘taking’ those trendy Staycations this summer).

What I found through my research was that there are DOZENS of trails, lakes, and nature preserves all within 30 minutes from Bloomington that I have never heard of. WOAH! How awesome is that? I picked out the closest one with waterfalls (I have the biggest weakness for waterfall picnics) and planned my whole Saturday around it.


And it was the perfect day adventure! The trail was only a little over a mile but we crossed paths with waterfalls, evergreens, caves, and swamps. So beautiful and only ten minutes from my house! It blows my mind that I’ve lived here for 5 years and I am still discovering new beautiful spots all the time.

In other weekend news, my Ma stopped by on her way back from a business trip. It was nice to finally show her the house that we had put so much work/time into. I am hoping they can come down for a longer visit in the coming weeks. Oh! And Wyatt played his first show with his new band which went perfectly!

Two of the pictures above are from our little day adventure on Saturday (bottom left and top right). The top left one is from some cacti shopping I did at my favorite nursery a couple of days ago and the bottom of is Tuko and I sleeping in on Sunday (much-needed!).

Well, these “moody” posts are seeming less and less moody and more just little, nice peaks into my life. Perhaps I am not as cranky as I always had told myself I was! And perhaps I need to consider renaming this column…hmm…



Zucchini Fritters with Dill Dipping Sauce

July 27, 2012

Happy Friday! Does anyone have any big plans for the weekend? Wyatt’s band is playing tonight and my Ma is stopping by to see our new house later but I feel that my schedule is pretty open for Saturday and Sunday. I really would love to adventure in the form of canoeing, hiking, picnicing, and camping but I fear that the temperatures are not supposed to drop below 100 again this weekend. This means that I will most likely need to start planning ways to hide indoors during the day (I really have become a wuss when it comes to the heat). Perhaps make a few macrame plant holders or some homemade billy buds?

Or maybe it’s FINALLY time to make that homemade cheese that has been on my summer to-do list forever now! Who knows…but honestly, this heat makes me not want to eat anything lately…the only thing my body has craved for the past month has been coconut flavored La Croix and green smoothies. This would be great if I was the type of girl who wanted to be on a diet…but let’s be real here…I own a food blog! I LOVE to eat! This wasn’t brought up as a complaint…I’ve learned to adjust to the heat. We have been waiting to eat until about 9 or so every night so that it’s cool enough to tolerate cooked food (tolerate is such a terrible word for my recipes…they deserve so much more!). And on a good note – we have been eating a lot less so this has given me a chance to try out all those recipes that many would consider starters/appetizers as light meals for us to enjoy (like those yummy Corn and Feta Empanadas).

Speaking of light meals…I whipped up these zucchini fritters with what was left of CSA box from last week (remember…I didn’t get one this week because of the drought! Such a bummer. And as a warning: it’s not going to just be us Midwesterners who will be affected by this drought! Ek!). Anyhow, these were delicious as a light dinner but feel free to also feel these to your guests as a starter at your next dinner party.

Zucchini Fritters with Dill Dipping Sauce

For the dipping sauce:

  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons fresh dill
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Juice of a small lime
  • Salt/Pepper, to taste

For the Fritters:

  • 4 medium zucchini
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Vegetable or Coconut Oil for Frying

To make the dipping sauce: Combine everything together in a small dish and stick in the fridge until ready to eat (this will give it some time to let the flavors mend together).

To make the Fritters: Cut off the top and bottoms of the zucchini. Grate them using the largest setting on your grater (AKA side with the biggest holes). Sprinkle with salt and stick in a bowl. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes. Move the zucchini to a clean dish towel (or SEVERAL layers of paper towel so they are strong) and ring out any excess juice.

Next, combine the zucchini, dill, flour, garlic, eggs, and baking powder. Stir until everything is mixed and a thick batter has formed.

In a medium skillet, put just enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Heat the oil over medium and use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop out the batter onto the pan. My pan was big enough to cook 3 at a time but this may depend on the size of your pan..make sure they have enough room to not collide. Cook for about 3 minutes on each side (time will depend on how hot your oil gets…usually will take less time as you go on).

Place cooked fritters on a paper towel lined tray and repeat with the rest of your batter.

Enjoy with that yummy dipping sauce and your favorite people/puppies.

Corn and Feta Empanadas

July 26, 2012

I have been having some serious wonderlust lately. It’s a serious problem. I feel like it mine as well be 20 degrees out…this heat makes me feel just as claustrophobic as the freezing nights of January. It makes me long for cool breezes, sweaters, and hot apple cider. I had such a long list of camping destinations this summer and I fear we won’t be able to get to any of them if these constant heat waves don’t break! I need some ‘smores and waterfall adventures in my life ASAP.

Well, it is SUPPOSE to rain here all day…cross your fingers! Sadly, it has been so dry that the local crops have been growing at snail pace which means we didn’t get a CSA box this week! It’s a total bummer. This means no fresh sage or summer squash this week. Or no beautiful drive into the country to pick up our ‘goodie box’ full of delicious surprises. Ah, oh well. It does also mean that we will get to do it for an extra week in October but still….

Anyhow, we still have a few leftover veggies from last week’s crop (and we do live two blocks from the local co-op so I really shouldn’t complain that much). We get LOADS of corn on the cob every week (go figure! What else is Indiana known for?). This was a perfect recipe to use up the leftover 7 cobs.

This was my first time ever tackling empanadas but it was surprisingly easy. Imagine calzones but without the hassle of using yeast dough (no kneading, rising, etc). It was fantastic. The dough had to chill so I was able to make the filling in the mean time and this probably didn’t take more than 20-30 minutes (plus cooking time). I grew up enjoying my step-mom’s empanadas which were always filled with apples, cherries, or blueberries. I feel like I could never top their sweet delicious flakiness so I decided to go in the opposite direction. I made these savory ones knowing they would be nothing like hers but being able to claim them as my own (and not compare them!).
Anyhow, this post has become very wordy. I am going to end saying one last thing about these empanadas. The filling was AMAZING. Next time I decided to make a corn side for a potluck or family gathering, I am going to just make this filling (corn + feta = oh so delicious). I am telling you this as a warning so you don’t eat all of the filling before you manage to fill all the insides!

Corn and Feta Empanadas

Adapted from The Kitchn
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, cubed and chilled
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup cold water, divided


For the Filling:

  • 7- 8 ears of corn, boiled until softened (or about 3 1/2 cups frozen)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 3 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon of lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil


Start by prepping the dough: I made the dough by hand but feel free to use a food processor if you have one. Place the flour, salt, and chopped butter in a bowl. Use your washed hands to work the butter into the dried ingredients until coarse. Whisk together the egg and water in a small bowl. Add in the water/egg mixture a little bit at a time and mix with your hands. Repeat until the dough has formed a stiff ball (you may not need all the water for this).

Divide into two parts and wrap in foil or parchment paper. Stick in the fridge to chill while you prep the filling.

To make the filling: heat olive oil over medium in a large skillet. Add in the corn and cook for about 5 minutes. Next, add in the garlic, mustard, milk, lime juice, paprika, sugar, and salt and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and fold in the feta.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Take the dough out of the fridge and roll out on a floured surface. I suggest just making it as thin as possible (probably about a 1/2 in thick but this all depends on personal preference). Use a small tea saucer as a template to cut out a circular hole.

Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and fill with about 2 tablespoon of the corn/feta mixture. Use your finger to rub a tiny bit of water on the outer edges of the dough (to make it sticky) and fold in half. Make indents with a fork to insure the empanadas are sealed. Repeat with the rest of the dough/mixture.

Cook for 15 or so minutes (it took mine about 22 minutes but my oven seems to take longer than most..)

Enjoy as an appetizer or as a main with a big salad!

Blueberry Limeade Cocktail

July 24, 2012

And it’s time for another cocktail recipe! I have really been spitting them out lately, huh? After posting recipes for both Vanilla Peach Champagne Punch and Strawberry Mint Wine Coolers last week, I am back with a new one!

We had a little “house-warming” type potluck last Friday which gave me an opportunity to make a few appetizers and drinks. I tend to lean towards sangria when it comes to making drinks for potlucks- it’s what my Ma always made for summer parties and it’s the main alcoholic drink that I am craving come August. However, we only had an hour to prep for the party (between work and party time) so I decided to pick out something a bit less labor intensive (cutting up fresh fruit adds up!). This cocktail was perfect because I was able to make the blueberry simple syrup the night before so I just had to combine everything in a pitcher right before the party. That made this drink totally stress free and gave me a much better mind set to just sit back and enjoy it!

Well, as usual, I took out my camera with intentions of taking pictures during the party but completely forgot about it as soon as people started showing up. Here is a snap shot of me holding the yummy cocktail (half the batch- this stuff made a lot!) before everyone arrived.

It’s kind of weird posting a picture of myself on my blog! I am usually always the one behind the camera!

Anyhow, if you aren’t planning to entertain anytime soon, you can definitely whip this blueberry syrup up and then store it in the fridge. It’ll be perfect to bring out when you need to whip up a cocktail for yourself after a looooong day of work.


PS Use cane sugar to make vegan!


Blueberry Limeade Cocktail

For the Blueberry syrup:

  • 1/2 pint blueberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water


For the cocktail:

  • 2 liter of seltzer water
  • a bottle of gin (about 700mm/24 fluid ounces)
  • 1/2 pint blueberries (for garnish)
  • Ice


To make the blueberry syrup: Place the 1/2 pint of blueberries in a small sauce pan and use the back of a wooden spoon to mash them as much as possible. Add the sugar and water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower to a simmer and stir for ten minutes (or until a super deep blue/purple forms). Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Stick in an air tight container and in the fridge until chilled or ready to use.

To make the cocktail: In a large pitcher, combine the seltzer water, gin, and blueberry simple syrup. Serve over ice in fancy glasses!

Look at that color!

Moody Monday: Summer Banner

July 23, 2012

Good afternoon. I am going to keep this short because I have been feeling under the weather the past few days and am not the most chipper I have ever been.

Anyhow, I FINALLY got around to making a more summery banner (it only took until the end of July!). It’s super similar to my old one but just has a picture from a lake picnic instead of from the winter waterfall picnic. What can I say? I loooooove picnics and the whole idea that surrounds them. The concept of eating outside while enjoying a beautiful scene and relaxing with some of your favorite people…makes me very glad to have a picnic memory be the first thing people see when they open my blog up!

Anyhow, here are a few more pictures from the weekend. Nothing in particular…a new banner I made, a cocktail concoction (hope to have the recipe up later this week), farmers market, and lake supplies. A little bit from everything I did this weekend!


Summer Squash Gratin

July 19, 2012

Here is a spectacular example of why the weekly CSA box is perfect for me. I never buy yellow squash- I am a total zucchini nut and don’t usually stray. However, we received five summer squashes in our box last week so I was forced to whip up a yummy recipe with them. And let me tell you, this was such a surprising and wonderful dish! Mmmm. (Although, let’s be honest- when is anything lathered in cheese and buttery crackers bad?)

You can easily enjoy this as a filling main or have it as a side to a bbq. It’s also super versatile so feel free to subsitute any kind of cheese you would like!



Not much other news here- it’s my Ma’s bday (so glad I remembered…unlike for my brother’s birthday last week…) but I won’t be spending it with her (4 hour difference is just enough to keep us from getting together on a regular basis). But they will be coming down to see our new house next weekend which I am oh so excited about!


Summer Squash Gratin

  • 4 medium yellow squash, thinly sliced
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 sleeve of ritz crackers, crushed
  • salt/pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and butter over medium. Add the squash and onions and saute until soft (about 10 minutes or so).

Remove from heat and stir in the cheeses and sour cream. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer to a casserole dish (I used a 2 gallon dish) and top with crushed crackers.

Bake for 25 minutes or until the top is browned.

Serve warm as a side to your grilled goods or as a filling main dish.



Lake Dinner Picnic

July 18, 2012


As I mentioned in a post a few days ago, we went on a lovely dinner picnic last Thursday. It was nice because we have been so busy with moving and getting our house organized that we haven’t been taking that much time to just chill out and enjoy summer. Plus, this heat wave has been making it awfully hard to want to hike to the lake when just standing in it makes you sweat and uncomfortable. That’s okay though because it’s made us get creative with our usual summer activities (like go at sunset instead of at midday). Anyhow, it was wonderful to just sit on the rocks and watch Tuko/Taco play in the water as the sun went down.


This was an impulse picnic so we just packed up a few things that we had around the kitchen. I whipped up some deviled eggs (so simple yet such a perfect summer staple), backed an array of sliced strawberries, brie, and sliced baguette, and then had Wyatt whip up some Nutella and Strawberry sandwiches. I was a little stressed that I didn’t have more time to plan our a menu but it ended up being perfect finger food for an impromptu adventure!



I am not even sure what we did for entertainment before we had Tuko. I really enjoy watching him love on the lake and get excited about being free to run and explore.

Hope everyone is making the most out of their summer and taking a little time to enjoy their food outside and stick their feet in the water!

Italian-Style Stuffed Tomatoes

July 17, 2012

So I can’t believe I haven’t told you guys yet but we decided to buy a CSA share! Last week we picked up our first CSA box from Stranger’s Hill Farm. Oh my god- what an exciting experience! I felt like a little kid headed to Discovery Zone. After work on Thursday, Wyatt and I drove out into the country (which really is only 6 miles from our house- hellloooooo Midwest) to pick up our first share from the farm. Being a locavore and produce enthusiast, this was too cool to see the farm from which my organic produce would be coming from each week. And I love the fact that you never know what you are going to get…it’s like a surprise goodie bag for foodies!

Anyhow, we got loads of goodies in our box for the first week: kale, tomatoes, summer squash, sun flowers, basil, and so much corn on the cob (hey, it is Indiana!). I am really hoping this will push new cooking limits as well because I have to find new recipes to use ingredients I wouldn’t usually purchase (I usually stick to spinach so kale was a nice challenge for me!).

Well, I am telling you this because the first recipe I tackled with our CSA produce were these stuffed tomatoes. I was a bit skeptical about wasting the insides of the tomatoes since they are sooooo fresh and delicious but the breadcrumb stuffing was a well suited replacement. And to be completely honest, those insides weren’t wasted because they ended up being munched down on before I cleaned up the cutting board.

PS- Omit the Parmesan to make vegan!



Italian-Style Stuffed Tomatoes

  • 5 medium tomatoes
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 8 basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons dried oregano
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
  • Olive Oil, for drizzling
  • Salt/Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut an inch circle off the top of the tomato and scoop out the inside with a small spoon. If the tomato is wobbly, cut a tiny bit off the bottom so that it stands. Then, place in a greased baking pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

In a mixing bowl, combine the tomatoes, basil, oregano, garlic, thyme, and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan. Fill the tomatoes with the mixture and drizzle olive oil on top of each.

Cook for about 12 minutes or until the breadcrumbs have become crispy on the top. Season with salt and pepper and top with the rest of the Parmesan.

Serve warm as an appetizer for a low maintenance grilling session or a fancy Italian dinner!


Moody Monday: Sunburns and Live Music

July 16, 2012

While everyone was at Pitchfork this weekend, I managed to get my own dose of music and sun: we saw King Tuff on Friday followed by Wyatt’s band playing on Saturday followed by an all day lake excursion on Sunday. It was a really busy but enjoyable weekend.



Although it is only Monday morning, we are already starting to prep for next weekend. I think we are going to finally have our house warming party on Friday which means the next couple of evenings will be filled with cleaning, rug searching (so much hardwood- so few rugs!), and party prep (oh! I LOVE recipe searching for appetizers!).

Hope everyone had a fantastic weekend and are ready for a full week of recipes supplied by yours truly!

Vanilla Peach Champagne Punch

July 13, 2012


Here are two preview pictures of a dinner picnic that Wyatt, Taco (/Tuko), and I went on last night. We found a new spot on the lake that is absolutely gorgeous and super secluded (don’t get me wrong- I love our usual spot where we know we will run into dozens of friends to swim with but sometimes it’s nice to take a break and find a peaceful place that is your own). I hope to post a full spread about the picnic once I get around to editing all the pictures (hopefully early next week).


Anyhow. Let’s talk about cocktails.


And here is my SECOND cocktail recipe for the week! I think that means I can officially put a line through my summer goal of experimenting with new drinks (don’t worry- that doesn’t mean I am done with cocktails for the summer..just makes me feel good about knocking something off my list).

I actually made a virgin version of this the first time and was so in love with it that I made it again (this time with champagne) the next evening! We have been having people over almost every other night to show friends our new house which means non-stop cocktail parties! Wooohooo!



Vanilla Peach Champagne Punch

  • 4 peaches, pits removed
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup peach nectar
  • 1 bottle of champagne (or fizzy water if you want to go virgin-style)


Blend together the peaches, sugar, vanilla, and nectar in a blender. Mix in the champagne and serve with your cutest vintage pitch and loads of ice!



I bet these would be even cuter with a small vanilla bean garnish! I took the pictures in a hurry since I whipped these up for guests but feel free to add your own character to them!

Berry and Pecan Summer Salad

July 12, 2012

If any benefit that has come from the previous heat wave, it is that it was too hot for me to crave anything but a huge, juicy salad. The thought of greasy french fries and the sluggish afternoon they would lead to in this 100 degree weather makes my stomach twist.

From years of salad experimenting, I’ve discovered the key to a really satisfying salad is as follows:

Greens (spinach, iceberg, kale, etc) + a sweet (usually fruit- fresh or dried) + a savory (nuts or baked tofu) + veggies (everything is better with veggies) + light salad dressing (to bring the flavors out but not over bear it).

I have been playing around with many variations on these combination a whole bunch recently and this Berry Pecan salad is probably my favorite one so far. The light honey vinaigrette brings out all the veggie fresh flavors and the peach/blueberry duo adds beautiful color and just enough sweet to tame the salty feta.

I am not going to put exact measurements for the contents of the salad because that is all up to you and what you enjoy. Feel free to experiment and swap out whatever you have on hand!

PS-  Substitute the honey for agave nectar and omit the feta to make it vegan!

Berry and Pecan Summer Salad

  • Mixed Greens assortment (mine was just from a farmer stand)
  • Blueberries
  • Sliced Peaches
  • Chopped Pecans (bet it would be even better if you roasted them before hand!)
  • Feta
  • Bell Pepper
  • Red Onion (I soaked the slices in water for about 15 to tame the flavor – it works great!)

For the Honey Vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • Salt/Pepper

Whisk all together in a small bowl and pour over salad.

Veggie hotdog dressed All American Style + Summer Salad = Mmmmmmm.

Strawberry and Mint Wine Cooler

July 11, 2012

Now that the heat wave is officially over (fingers crossed), it’s time to pull out your favorite recliner into the yard, pick up an alcoholic drink, and station yourself in the yard with all those back issues of ‘Vegetarian Times’ for the next month. Oh wait, or is that just something I do?

One of my summer goals was to experiment with new cocktails. I’ve enjoyed Tequila Sunrises and Dark & Stormys at the bars but what about experimenting at home? It’s already July and I’ve posted about…ONE cocktail. Not okay. Come on, get with it! To catch up for lost time I made TWO cocktails this weekend and am oh so excited to show them with you!

This simple wine cooler was something super easy that I made to spice up the plain white wine I was indulging in. Really, it’s not even a cocktail…but just a fun way to jazz up your drink. Heck, you could use sparkling water or sprite or champagne (oh!) instead of the white wine.


Strawberry Mint Wine Cooler

  • 1 bottle of your favorite white wine
  • 1 cup strawberries, chopped
  • a handful of mint leaves, torn slightly (to release extra flavor)
  • 1 cup carbonated/seltzer water (to make it fizzzzy and refreshing!)

Combine all ingredients in a pitch and serve over ice. Enjoy on your porch couch or hammock while watching your amusing puppy play in the yard.

Blog Nerd

July 10, 2012

My apologies for two posts in a row without a recipe but since my internet is still in limbo at our new house, I am forced to the limits of my cellphone. Ah well, this gives me an excuse to mix it up and get outside of my comfort zone with posts not directly related to food.

Anyhow, so as I’ve mentioned many times…I am a bit of a blogging nerd. I absolutely love learning blogging tips and reading other people’s perspectives on the blogging world. Even if I take a class and only learn one or two things, I find it very rewarding. Heck, it is just awesome to see people get enthusiastic about the same things I am enthusiastic about!

A while back I took Elsie’s blog class and then I took Blogging 2.0 last month. However, now that Blogging 2.0 is over…I am already on the look out for more blogging classes! That is what led me to coming across ALT design classes. The cool thing about these classes is the fact that they are super affordable and each topic has a different teacher so you can get a wide array of perspectives on different aspects.

And guess what!? Bing is offering to give you classes for free through their campaign here. Why would you NOT take free classes?

I am so excited to take:

Graphic Design for Bloggers
How to Use Illustrations to Make Your Brand Yours
Content is King